What a year it has been for Jill Ellis. Having already guided USA to their third FIFA Women’s World Cup™ victory at Canada 2015, after the nation's previous wins in 1991 and 1999, the Stars and Stripes coach has now been named FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football with 42.98 per cent of the vote. The 49-year-old could hardly contain her delight after Monday evening’s glamorous FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala at Zurich’s Kongresshaus.
“This award is a tremendous honour and naturally I’m very, very proud,” a visibly moved Ellis said in an interview, just minutes after the ceremony drew to a close. Despite her excitement, the coach was typically quick to emphasise that the US women’s triumph in Canada was based on an outstanding team effort. “What’s more important is that I get to share this title with the people who helped me to get it – that’s my players and staff,” she said, all the while keeping a tight grip on the heavy trophy in her hands.
Ellis also paid tribute to her parents during her acceptance speech. “They have both been incredibly supportive,” she later explained, dedicating the accolade to both her mother and her father, who served as her first coach. “My Dad has been involved in football his whole life, and just for him to be here and to share it with me is very, very special.”
Nevertheless, Jill Ellis would not be Jill Ellis if she were not already turning to the future and her next set of targets. “I’m always looking forward, so right now I’m focusing on qualifying,” she explained. “And if we qualify, I’ll hopefully be focusing on winning the Olympic gold medal!”